Dear students and colleagues,
University of Cape Town (UCT) staff and students have managed well with emergency remote teaching, but we know this is not the ideal way for us all to work. Congratulations to all who have persevered despite the unique challenges that 2020 brought.
The progressive opening of UCT campuses relies on everyone, staff and students, to exercise joint responsibility to take care of each other and to obey health directives to avoid the spread of the virus at the university. We all rely on your personal sense of responsibility and solidarity to follow health directives and to remind others to do the same.
It is understandable that you may have questions about how UCT will function during the first semester of 2021, particularly in light of the high likelihood of the increased spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa. We are currently witnessing the impact of “super-spreader” events at several South African universities, and naturally we want to ensure that UCT students and staff remain healthy and safe from infection as far as possible.
At the Senate meeting of Friday, 21 November, we made a number of decisions related to the 2021 academic year. I share these with you as it relates to my portfolio as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning.
Thank you very much to everyone who has been involved in helping us come to these decisions. Staff and colleagues have worked incredibly hard to allow us to continue our academic work despite very challenging circumstances.
Teaching and learning
All undergraduate UCT students who are resident in South Africa, and all international students who can return to South Africa, are expected to be in Cape Town for the start of the academic year on 15 March 2021. (Students in the Faculty of Health Sciences will need to be here earlier.)
During the first semester of 2021, UCT will offer all undergraduate courses in a physically distanced learning (PDL) mode. In practice this means:
Volume of work, exams and academic rules
Students’ workload volume will go back to the pre-COVID demand of 45 hours per week. Special accommodation might be made at the discretion of the faculty when it is considered necessary.
All academic rules will be operating as per normal. Faculty Examinations Committees and Readmissions Committees will be duly constituted.
All courses will be assessed as required by departments. Results will be shown as grades and will contribute to the calculation of grade point averages from course level 1000 to exit level courses.
Space and university services
Sessions that involve physical contact, whether in a laboratory, studio, tutorial or final-year lecture, will be held under strict health protocols. Students and staff members not wearing masks will not be allowed into a venue. On registration, students will need to sign a commitment of adherence to COVID-19 health and safety protocols before being allowed on campus.
UCT will identify study spaces on campus that meet health protocols for the use of day students. These will be announced before the end of the year and again at the beginning of the academic year.
Computer laboratories that are serviced by Information and Communication Technology Services will be opened for the use of undergraduate students, following strict health protocols and cleaning rotation schedules. Faculty-managed undergraduate computer laboratories will follow the same protocols.
UCT Libraries will open for staff and registered students according to approved health protocols, staffing, spatial layout and seating capacity at the different library sites. The comprehensive Virtual Library Services will continue, and on-site services and facilities will be adapted to support the 2021 Teaching and Learning programme.
Residences space will be allocated according to the existing policy, which gives priority to minors, first-year and financial-aid students. There will be no shared accommodation. Physical distance and health protocols will be applied and students in residence accommodation will need to sign a commitment of adherence to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
We will communicate with you the details of courses, timetables and venues when they have been finalised, soon after the beginning of 2021. The details of your specific courses will be communicated to you through your faculty.
Special communication about enrolment and registration for the academic year 2021 will be sent by the Office of the Registrar.
I trust in your ability to take care of yourself and all the members of the UCT community by following these directives. I wish you a successful exam season and a restful holiday to prepare you for a productive and enjoyable 2021.
Thank you again for your hard work, commitment and support.
Associate Professor Lis Lange
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning
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COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March and implement a national lockdown from 26 March.
UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information.
Getting credible, evidence-based, accessible information and recommendations relating to COVID-19
The Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, are producing educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine. Many of the recommendations are based on current best evidence and are aligned to provincial, national and international guidelines. For more information on UCT’s Department of Medicine, please visit the website.
To watch more videos like these, visit the Department of Medicine’s YouTube channel.
As the COVID-19 crisis drags on and evolves, civil society groups are responding to growing and diversifying needs – just when access to resources is becoming more insecure, writes UCT’s Prof Ralph Hamann.03 Jul 2020 - 6 min read Republished
The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the global consequences of fragmented, inadequate and inequitable healthcare systems and the damage caused by hesitant and poorly communicated responses.24 Jun 2020 - >10 min read Opinion
Our scientists must not practise in isolation, but be encouraged to be creative and increase our knowledge of the needs of developing economies, write Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of UCT, and Professor Thokozani Majozi from the University of the Witwatersrand.09 Jun 2020 - 6 min read Republished
South Africa has been recognised globally for its success in flattening the curve, which came as a result of President Ramaphosa responding quickly to the crisis, writes Prof Alan Hirsch.28 Apr 2020 - 6 min read Republished
In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”
We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.